Chester Racecourse: The oldest active course on the planet

When it comes to horse racing in the UK, many racecourses overshadow Chester.

The Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, Grand National and Cheltenham make up a stunning quartet of British festivals. But some fans may not be aware that Chester Racecourse has a level of history that trumps even the Royal Ascot.

As the oldest racecourse in the world, Chester Racecourse was established in 1539 and has hosted races ever since. Its annual events attract thousands of spectators each year and the venue has ingrained racing into the culture of Cheshire.

For many locals, horse racing fans or not, it has become a tradition to attend Chester’s biggest races each year.

Chester’s May Festival

Chester’s horse racing events begin in May each year. The beginning of the action is marked by the three-day May Festival. This is the venue’s biggest and most prestigious event.

The standout races of the three-day event are the Chester Cup and the Betfair Huxley Stakes. Horses from all over the nation and beyond compete in the May Festival. There is certainly a horse for everyone to back.

It’s even possible to become directly invested in the action by acquiring shares in a racehorse that regularly features at Chester. RaceShare is a syndicate that offers fans the opportunity to become part-owners of a horse. This includes the horse Red Mirage, who is a regularly races at Chester.

In 2023 Red Mirage ran on the final day of the May Festival in the Stellar Earl Grosvenor Handicap. The horse has lined out on the track three more times this year, becoming a regular on Chester racecourse.

Besides the main festival, Chester hosts another 12 race days throughout the year. It is a venue that should be on the bucket list of any passionate fan as it carries a level of history like none other.

The history of the racecourse

Over six centuries ago, the ground that Chester Racecourse sits upon today was mostly covered by water. It served as a harbour during the Roman occupation of Britain.

With Chester holding the Guinness World Record for the oldest active racecourse in the world, it’s no surprise that it has met a number of other records during it’s legacy.

The venue gave out the first-ever recorded prize to a winner during the Chester Fair of 1512. It has also provided the longest continuous horse racing action throughout history. Annual racing meetings began in 1539 and have continued to the modern day with pauses only taking place during wartime.

Ultimately, Chester may not be the most popular and prestigious horse racing location in the UK, but it possesses more history than any other course on the planet. British horse racing was born in Chester and its longevity will undoubtedly never be toppled.

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